Former FC Dallas defender Reggie Cannon said that the club asked him to apologize for comments he made about fans who booed the team when players took a knee during the national anthem.
Speaking on The Crack Podcast with host Mabricio Wilson and former U.S. internationals Oguchi Onyewu and DaMarcus Beasley -- and prior to the player's transfer to Portuguese side Boavista on Sept. 9 -- Cannon recalled what took place before and after the match between Dallas and Nashville SC on Aug. 12.
Prior to the game, the players took a knee during the playing of the national anthem as a means of protesting racial injustice, at which point some fans booed while another threw projectile onto the field. The fan who threw an object was subsequently ejected. After the match, Cannon reacted to the actions of the fan and said: "You can't even have the support of your own fans in your own stadium. It's absolutely baffling to me."
Cannon said that in the incident's aftermath, the club asked him to apologize publicly.
"They had written out a statement for me that read, 'I apologize to the fans I offended. My choice of words, I like to think that I let the heat of the moment get to me,'" Cannon recalled.
He added, "I said, 'With all respect, I'm not apologizing. I didn't do anything wrong. We all made the decision [to kneel].' And I said, 'What they did was disgusting.' I never called anyone disgusting. The action that you guys chose to do was disgusting because you don't understand why we're kneeling.''
Reached by telephone, an FCD spokesperson declined to comment.
Cannon said he received "threats of being lynched" in the days that followed, and at one point, the club offered to not have him play in the subsequent match against Nashville that took place on Aug. 17.
"The club just called me and told me I don't have to play tomorrow because unfortunately we were sent another screenshot of people rallying up saying they're gonna give me a surprise at one of the home games," said Cannon. "Every post saying, 'Let's teach this boy Reggie Cannon a lesson about what true terror is.' All this BS. So, now they're taking added security measures."
In the immediate aftermath of the incident, Dallas declined to make a public statement about Cannon's comments, but once the death threats were made, both FCD and Major League Soccer put out statements in support of the player.
In a statement attributed to FCD owners Dan and Clark Hunt on Aug. 13, the two said: "We want to be clear: We love and support Reggie Cannon. The racist comments and death threats he received are repulsive and unacceptable."
Black Players for Change, an advocacy group for the league's Black players, had originally requested that the anthem not be played at the Aug. 12 match, but the league went ahead with the playing of the anthem anyway.
MLS later decided to have the players remain in the locker room during the playing of the anthem prior to the Dallas-Nashville game on Aug. 17, though there have been games since where players have knelt for the national anthem.
Cannon has since been transferred out of the league, a move that was long expected, though at the time of the interview he said he felt he found his voice through the experience.
"Now I know what I stand for because I've seen this, I've seen how people truly think, I've seen how people truly are," he said. "Because I've always wanted to believe, like for example, FC Dallas is always a family and they always have your best interests at heart and always have your back.
"I've kind of had my eyes opened. I know what I stand for."